In southwest Indiana, there’s a small town lush with trees, landscaped gardens, and historic buildings. It's quiet there, and it's not unusual to see the town's hotel guests using their preferred method of transportation: the golf cart. In this town, there are no chain restaurants, and some of the locally-owned businesses prefer cash over plastic. Sometimes, the community feels a little exclusive, but you can sense its devotion to nature. Sometimes, it feels like an escape.

This small town is also a twice-failed utopia.

As the historical marker toward the center of town says, New Harmony is the location of "two attempts at communal living: the Harmonists under Reverend George Rapp, 1814-1825, and the Owenites under philanthropist Robert Owen, 1825-1826. New Harmony remained an important cultural center for many years thereafter."

True enough, New Harmony is popular with individuals who seek both solitude and historic culture. There are nearly three dozen buildings from the 1800s, a significant number for a town of just 915 souls. Some of the architecturally significant buildings include the opera house, the library, the Granary, and the Roofless Church.* New Harmony was even the site of an installation by Patrick Dougherty, an artist who specializes in building sculptures out of tree saplings. The New Harmony installation, which was titled Just Around the Corner and was featured on the cover of Alessandro Rocca’s book Natural Architecture, is no longer standing. (As Dougherty’s sculptures are made of natural materials, they decompose after a few years.)

It's worth a visit, New Harmony. There is a farmers and artisans market every Saturday, and the second floor of the Working Man's Institute features an art gallery and a museum (one with fossils and oddities, including an eight-legged calf). There are antique stores, cafes, and even a self-guided architecture walking tour. And just south of town is Harmonie State Park, a place of entangled trees and walking trails. So although New Harmony may have been unsuccessful as a social utopia, it is certainly a utopia for historic architecture and quiet nature.

* Visit New Harmony is currently using one of my photos of the Roofless Church on its website! They contacted me a few months ago and asked if I would allow them to use it.


  1. New Harmony looks so idyllic and quintessentially American... the perfect little summertime escape!

    I hope you're enjoying the sunshine! xx

  2. New Harmony is truly a beautiful place, and you've captured it well! I can't help but take photos every time I'm there. When I was snapping away the other day, a man asked me if it was my first time visiting. Definitely not; it's just so charming that I feel like I have to capture it. I would love to walk up and up the residential streets taking photos of all the lovely old homes and churches!

  3. What a beautiful place! I love how you captured this city through photographs!
    xo TJ

  4. Interesting. It seems lovely but also a wee bit unsettling.
    loss of utopia maybe? ;)

  5. SO beautiful time in history ,when the Lord has been with they and been fild of the Holy Spirit in blessing to living near Christ in too with salvation in peace and hope and the light ,thanks and bless,keijo sweden


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